Thursday, September 15, 2011

FAQ: How and when should I prune over-grown holly bushes?

Q.  I have some holly bushes that have grown too large. They almost cover the windows. How and when should I prune them?

A. It's September. You are probably tempted to prune your shrubs to just below the window sill, and to do it now. The problem is two-fold. Firstly, heavy pruning will stimulate re-growth of new tissue that will not have time to harden off before cold weather arrives. Therefore the tender growth will be damaged by frost. Heavy pruning should be done in spring after danger of frost is past.

Secondly, pruning to below the window sill will not be enough. Your shrubs may half-way cover the windows again before the first growing season is over. They may not look good, either. The best practice is to cut them quite low, perhaps only 10 inches to 12 inches high. New growth should flourish. Trim to improve the shape in late summer.

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